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Daniel Corleone's Movie Reviews (1781)

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Mr. Holland's Opus 
Mr. Hollands Opus review
3/4 stars

It’s a feel good movie when you’re feeling down or is disappointed with your parents. A story of a talented musician/composer named Glen Holland (Richard Dreyfuss). He accepted a job as a teacher for music appreciation at John F. Kennedy High School headed by principal Helen Jacobs (Olympia Dukakis). His first 5 months he struggled with the inept ability of his students to learn the basics of music. He then discovered that one should learn music the fun way. Iris (Glenne Headly) becomes pregnant and delivers Coltrane “Cole” Holland. Loosing 90% of the child’s hearing, they enroll him to an institution that does sign language. Mr. Holland had become close with the students in school, and not enough time with his disabled son. He redeems himself by orchestrating for the hearing impaired and singing a song dedicated to Cole. Rowena Morgan (Jean Louisa Kelly), a talented student of Glen has invited him to go to New York to make music together, however Mr. Holland has done what is best for her and his family. Due to the budget constraints of the school, the appointed principal Gene Wolters (WilliamH. Macy) has decided to scrap the musical program of Kennedy High School. Mr. Holland was able to conduct his own opus namely “The American Symphony” to alumni students, even his challenging student who became governor, Gertrude Lang (Alicia Witt).

From the beginning of the film, the flashes of brilliance with the musical score are witnessed. Songs from John Lennon, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Julia Fordham and more were utilized to keep the mood of picture moving. The remarkable performance of Richard Dreyfuss was very humane and realistic. Even the supporting cast such as Jay Thomas (Holland’s friend Bill Miester), Headly and Macy did a splendid job to keep the pace of the film from being dull. Footages of Martin Luther King, the Kennedy’s, Woodstock, Lennon’s death and other significant events from different eras were shown to symbolize the changing times and how it affects the respective generation’s music. During our days in school, rarely do we find teachers whose impact matches the positively profound Mr. Holland. The movies subject touch on family life, setting your priorities, making an impact on others and appreciating music. All of which was effectively represented. One of the best speeches I have seen on screen was delivered by the adult Gertrude: “I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland.” Another memorable quote from Principal Jacobs – “A teacher has two jobs; fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that that knowledge doesn't go to waste.” Mr. Glen Holland has succeeded in both. In life, it’s not how rich or successful we are, it’s how we made others better. Not all films have this premise.


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